Media and the Political players are like married couple. Both understand each other’s temptations so readily forgive the flings unless it becomes damaging affair for either of the stakeholder. They fight but make up soon for sake of continuation of the relationship with renewed vow to support each other every time. Like most marriages this too is an unequal relationship wherein the political player can lose reputation and elections but the media firm can lose its existence.
Politicians need media to put across their promotional communication to citizens at large and media need them for advertising money and sensational content. News Channels use no holds barred approach to find content that brings highest TRP to their business so that they could charge premium from advertisers. Therefore the so called Breaking News stories have not much to do with journalistic mission or nation building pronouncements for sake of audience benefit but a direct greedy tactic to get better TRP for raking in the moolah.
Let us also resolve the conundrum of politics for nation and people or politics for pure self aggrandizement. In my considered opinion all Political players work for themselves only and some of them are more open to sharing the windfall gains with some number of people. There is no political party that has worked for all the people of a country. Show me one and I’ll show you people the victimized and marginalized in some clear manner.
Let’s get back to the issue of how political parties should handle media or leverage the communication opportunities presented to them. Firstly in pays to have own dedicated mass media machine that is run professionally. Most parties in democracies have ‘close’ linkages with media houses but since last decade in India many parties own pretty powerful media monsters of their own to unleash at the opponents. The serious weakness in all those strategic assets is lack of professionalism as toadies generally lack competence to get audience interest. Such dedicated media firms must be run by professionals with Editorial policy control with the party. Aligning with an outside media firm is more expensive & less effective.
Political players generally get carried away by the media attention and tend to speak endlessly on any topic under the sun. Have you ever heard a politician say on camera that they need some time to answer the question if the muck racking seems to be working to their advantage? When you target the opponent it’s better to go prepared for your best shot. You must always depend on written prepared communication for better results and always desist from off the cuff shibboleths.
Political parties must plan the media rendezvous and must not exceed a given limit. Please note that more communication may lead to more confusion so in order to have positive impression on masses keep all political communication around few specific points that a binds your politics with your target audience. A political player must avoid expressing views on topics that strengthen the opponent camp as bad publicity is also welcome publicity in politics.
Finally political parties would benefit if the work of communication management be left to professionals than party managers because the insiders can’t have a 360 degree view of a communication situation.